LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday ruled that a small business contracted to deliver packages for FedEx on the California-Oregon border must arbitrate with FedEx over claims it made against the company of racketeering and other alleged legal violations.

In granting FedEx Ground's motion to compel arbitration, Judge Sallie Kim wrote that PYNQ failed to show it would be unconscionable to require arbitration. Most legal disputes between FedEx Ground and its contractors are resolved outside the courtroom.

FedEx has vowed to "vigorously defend the lawsuit" and has asked the court to dismiss the case.

PYNQ Logistics Services sued FedEx Ground on Nov. 14 in federal court in Northern California, alleging that it engages in a systemic pattern of illegal and wrongful business practices that violate U.S. anti-racketeering law.

PYNQ asked the court to determine that its relationship with FedEx Ground is that of an employee rather than a contractor, and reserved the right to pursue the case as a class action.

The case appeared to be the first where a former FedEx Ground contractor has sued the global delivery giant under the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), PYNQ's attorney told Reuters.

If the court had determined that FedEx Ground's roughly 6,000 contractors are employees, it could have driven up its labor costs and threatened the delivery giant's ongoing efforts to slash costs.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Michael Perry)